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UNI's Brown delivers as top defensive back
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UNI's Brown delivers as top defensive back

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CEDAR FALLS – Omar Brown has found a home at the University of Northern Iowa.

He has not only developed into one of the best defensive backs in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He is recognized as one of the best DBs in the country.

The multi-talented, 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Minneapolis has NFL aspirations and has made a steady progression while excelling in two productive seasons with the Panthers.

UNI coach Mark Farley is impressed with what Brown has done during his time in Cedar Falls.

“When Omar came in as a freshman, every time our opponents tried to go after him he made a play,” Farley said. “Same thing during the spring season – every time they went after him he made a play. Omar continues to get better as he gains more experience. He really rises to the occasion when we need him to.”

Brown made an immediate impact during his first season at Northern Iowa in 2019. He recorded 77 tackles and intercepted six passes. He earned first team all-conference honors and was named FCS Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Brown followed by starting all seven games during the abbreviated COVID-impacted spring schedule earlier this year. He recorded 30 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception. He was named honorable mention all-conference.

Now he’s looking to take the next step this fall.

“I worked really hard in the offseason on a lot of facets of my game,” he said. “I feel like I continue to make improvements as I gain experience. I’m a smarter player now with a couple years under my belt and I think that will help me a lot this season.”

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Brown was one of the leaders on a Northern Iowa defense that allowed just 15 points per game during the spring schedule.

“Everyone on our defense, we all get along great – I think that makes a big difference in how well we play,” he said. “We have excellent chemistry and we work really well together as a unit. It’s amazing to be on such a great defense with so many good players.”

In his Panther debut, Brown recorded seven solo tackles and four assisted stops in a triple-overtime loss at Iowa State two years ago.

“I definitely got thrown into the fire for my first college game,” he said. “It was crazy – I had never played in front of that many people before. It was a great experience going up against Iowa State and I’m looking forward to playing there again.”

Brown and his teammates now return to Ames for another matchup Saturday afternoon against the powerful Cyclones, who are ranked seventh nationally. UNI sits at No. 21 nationally in the FCS.

“Everybody is tired of practicing and we’re all just really excited to finally play in a game,” Brown said. “I can’t wait – this is a big game coming up for us against a great football team. We know it’s going to be a challenge, but these are the types of games you live for. We will definitely be ready.”

UNI defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson appreciates the contributions Brown has made in the strong Panther secondary.

“Omar started the very first game of his true freshman year and he has started every game since then,” Johnson said. “He’s a really experienced, confident kid who has tremendous ball skills. And he’s physical.”

Brown has watched closely as several of his former Panther teammates have received National Football League opportunities.

Among those is offensive tackle Spencer Brown, who was drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills earlier this year.

Playing in the NFL is something that is definitely on Omar Brown’s radar.

“I know if I play well here at UNI that someone at the next level will take notice,” he said. “I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hopefully I can be next.”

Craig Sesker is a sports reporter for the Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @Craigsesker. You can reach him via email at Craig.Sesker@WCFCourier.com or via phone at 319-575-2891.

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